Our program studies key linkages between physical processes, such as upwelling or local habitat conditions, and the growth and survival of fish and invertebrates in the coastal Pacific ocean and estuaries. A major objective of this work is to understand effects of the nearshore ocean environment on growth and survival of Pacific salmon. Through these studies, researchers are gaining a better understanding of the factors that control production of coastal resources, more successfully predicting resource status (such as numbers of salmon returning to the Columbia River), and increasing our understanding of management effects on these systems.
We study critical biological-physical relationships in two main ecosystem types. First, in the Northern California Ecosystem off Oregon and Washington, we seek to understand the effects of climate variability on zooplankton and pelagic fish populations. An especially important part of this research is to understand the distribution, abundance, growth, and survival of juvenile salmon during their first months in the ocean. Second, in the Columbia River estuary and estuaries of Puget Sound, we investigate how estuarine residence time and attributes of estuarine habitats affect the recovery of particular populations of salmon.